February 5, 2019 | Funding the Fight


Fact Checking the State of the Union Announcement on HIV

Brittany Herrick (Health GAP): 1 347-263-8438| brittany@healthgap.org

Health GAP issued a reaction to the State of the Union pledge by President Trump to request the fiscal year 2020 budget to include the “needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years” and that “together, we will defeat AIDS in America—and beyond.”

“This pledge must be contrasted with the hard facts,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP. “As President, Trump’s policies have fanned the flames of the HIV epidemic in the United States and around the world—from working to cut life-saving HIV treatment and prevention funding for the global AIDS response, to undermining Medicaid expansion to promoting homophobia, and obstructing efforts to slash the price of medicines.”

“Any pledge to defeat HIV that passes a credibility test must extend beyond the U.S.—but Trump has disregarded the global nature of the AIDS crisis in his announcement and in his policies. Despite the need for funding increases for PEPFAR to accelerate access to life-saving treatment and prevention efforts, Trump has proposed more than $1 billion in deadly cuts to the U.S. global AIDS response two years in a row. He has also expanded pernicious policies such as the Global Gag Rule, which bans providers of HIV services that receive funding from the U.S. government from offering information about abortion or performing abortions. Moreover, he is pursuing trade policies that would increase monopoly powers of pharmaceutical corporations to charge higher prices overseas for a longer period of time.

“High drug prices are making people with HIV sick in the U.S. and around the world—yet this announcement contained no evidence-based proposals to slash skyrocketing drug prices. Instead it contained distortions and downright lies. For example, that drug prices have dropped (when they have ballooned) and that the U.S. pays more for medicines than other countries due to ‘freeloading’ when in fact, the U.S. pays more than other countries for medicines because the government does less to restrain excessive pricing than any other country in the world. President Trump allows drug companies get away with deadly price gouging, claiming countries that try to tame unbearable prices are doing something wrong.

“AIDS cannot be defeated anywhere without funding increases and policies needed to save lives. But this President has promoted HIV funding cuts, and policies that defy evidence and violate human rights. To end the HIV epidemics at home and abroad, a real leader must call for: at least $1 billion in additional funding for global AIDS for fiscal year 2020, a permanent repeal of the Global Gag Rule, Medicare for All to ensure access to quality health care in the United States, evidence-based policies such as harm reduction for people who use drugs, and truly progressive proposals to slash the cost of medicines in the U.S. and globally.”


Health GAP is an international advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all people living with HIV have access to affordable life sustaining medicines. Our team pairs pragmatic policy work with audacious grassroots action to win equitable access to treatment, care and prevention for people living with and affected by HIV worldwide. We are dedicated to eliminating barriers to universal access to affordable life sustaining medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS as key to a comprehensive strategy to confront and ultimately stop the AIDS pandemic. We believe that the human right to life and to health must prevail over the pharmaceutical industry’s excessive profits and expanding patent rights.